The Amy H Remley Foundation  

A Need for Bold Leadership on Drinking Water Protection

On the second war front, namely the water war that Florida is facing, decisions about drinking water quality, distillation, water prices and distribution are rapidly approaching. Citrus County taxpayers will be asked to underwrite expensive water treatment schemes while nature's own groundwater storage capabilities will be slowly consumed. Water use efficiency policies that could help meet Florida's water needs are often ignored in favor of proposals that are more expensive and have the potentially to be dangerous to our health.

Water Policy Issues for the County

The Situation

Florida law and Citrus County Ordnances are to provide us with a legal roadmap for preventing degradation of our drinking waters. The heart and soul of these laws are providing us with clean and safe drinking water, as well as the control of water withdrawals via the consumptive water use permits by Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD).

The current demand of water withdrawals, natural growth patterns in the county and the current drought situation have highlighted challenges in maintaining our lake and river levels that in turn cleanse waterbodies of pollutants and maintain our wildlife during a period of drought. Reversal flows through a seep turned sink in Lake Henderson have identified that the lake water is being drawn into the surficial aquifer as it happened at Payne's Parrie in 1842.

SWFWMD along several Boards are responsible for long-term water supply planning to meet the needs of Citrus County current and future generations as well as maintaining the flow levels of our rivers, lakes, and recharge areas. In coordination with these Boards and SWFWMD, the county's comprehensive development plan and the Planning and Development Review Board need to be our first line of defense to ensure that our drinking water supplies are protected, groundwater and water levels are maintained, and watershed development is controlled.

The Resolution

As stated in part 1, the first and arguably most important step towards cleaning up our waterbodies, springs and groundwater is to make sure that we have compiled an accurate and complete list of all waterbodies, seeps, sinkholes, river, streams, and springs in Citrus County. In addition, hazarded waste, storage tanks, and wastewater facilities need to be inventoried and added to the list.

Reversal flows in Lake Henderson seeps can be attributed to expensive water withdrawals and lack of rainfall along the top of the Brooksville ridge and within the watershed that lowers the head pressures, which in turn allows for reverse seep flows. Both the county and SWFWMD need to implement a drought withdrawal plan as well as watering restrictions and monitor the flow of seeps and springs.

The next step is to then establish and implement water withdrawal budgets and protection measures for the Coastal and Withlacoochee River basins in a timely manner. Once the steps have been accomplished, the last step is to establish and implement water reuse program and conservation program coordination with SWFWMD.

Safe Drinking Water

The Situation

Citrus County needs clean and safe drinking water every hour of the day. Human health must be the first priority for county drinking water policymakers along with the Department of Health (DOH), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and SWFWMD. Protecting the quality of the county's groundwater's for drinking water is of utmost importance to all residents of Citrus County, since we get our drinking water from public or domestic underground sources.

Rain water recharge is the main form of groundwater recharge in all our watersheds. Wastewater facilities are permitted to pond or aerate wastewater to the groundwater after primary treatment. Studies conducted in Citrus County by Upchurch have identified that the levels of nitrate in the groundwaters were found to be high adjacent to aeration areas. Can you imagine having wastewater aerated into the groundwater upstream of drinking water well?

In addition, polluted water from urban run-off, treated sewage, agricultural run-off contains hundreds of chemicals, as well as germs, pharmaceuticals, and other contaminants. The cost of restoring any contaminated in the aquifer will be enormous and take time. The question is how much time do we have? And is the time for cheap water over?

The Resolution

Growth development, planning, conservation, reuse, and efficiency measures should be used and enforcement of the water protection rules and regulations must enforce by the county and other regulatory agencies. The Water and Wastewater Authority should be given the authority to enforce the existing regulations and the county water and wastewater facilities should be under the purview of the Authority.

Water conservation is our primary recourse that everyone in the county can participate in by cutting back on water usage and have the financial benefits immediately. Peculation or aeration of wastewater into the water underground in areas where the aquifer is close to the surface or in a Karst environment needs to be eliminated. Opportunities for safe reuse of sewage wastewater should be exhausted to eliminate the need for potentially dangerous polluted fluids leaching into our aquifers.

Desalination works in other parts of the world. For over eight years, I drank and washed in desalinated water everyday of the week. Our water came through an 800 mile pipeline and served a population of 3.5 million people. Yes it is possible and cost effective, but the desalination plants were built for that purpose, not converted, and located next to a nuclear plant. The desalination plant cooling canals were turn into the best fish farms in the region.

Citrus County policy maker's decisions regarding drinking water and human health must be based on peer-reviewed, scientific consensus and studies conducted in the county. As a society, we should never sacrifice public health. When it comes to drinking water, human health must be the number one priority. Are we ready to pay the price is the question everyone must ask now? If not, we will certainly pay double the price later.

News and Views
News Items

November 30, 2013
On environment, shortsightedness costs Florida big.
Scott Maxwell, Taking Names.
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October 9, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013.
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September 25, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Potential for Fuel Cell Prime Power in Japan.
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August 1, 2013
Duke Energy to cancel proposed Levy County nuclear plant.
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May 22, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
Electrolysers for Renewable Energy Efficiency.
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March 13, 2013
Beyond Electricity: Using Renewables Effectively.
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September 24, 2012
Sewer Systems Legal Filing.
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February 1, 2012
Fuel Cell Today update.
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January 13, 2012
Sewer Agenda.
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December 23, 2011
Scientist: Water account overdrawn.
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Novemver 14, 2011
Submission to the Citrus County Commissioner, 14 November, 2011.
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